Examining which Blue Jays change their swing the most with two strikes

Mike Petriello joins Jamie Campbell to break down how bat speed is tracked, who ranks at the top of the Majors, the importance of bat speed, why Luis Arraez has been so efficient despite being the slowest swinger in MLB, and where the Blue Jays rank.

It’s no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays have struggled to score runs in 2024. The team ranks bottom five in MLB in home runs, extra-base hits and runs scored, and bottom 10 in batting average, isolated power and slugging percentage. 

Despite struggling to push runners across the plate, Toronto hitters have excelled at avoiding strikeouts. Toronto has the second-fewest punchouts in baseball and the fifth-lowest strikeout rate.

The Blue Jays are elite at making contact. Whether that comes at the expense of how well they’re hitting the ball is certainly up for debate, but either way, it makes sense that they would be able to limit the amount they strike out after getting to two strikes.

Across most levels of baseball, hitters change their approach with two strikes, trying to put the ball in play, and now, thanks to the new bat-tracking data released earlier this week over at Baseball Savant, we can get a better idea of how hitters swing the bat in different situations.

As a team, the Blue Jays’ average bat speed decreases by 1.4 m.p.h in two-strike counts compared to pre-two-strike situations, while their fast swing rate — the percentage of swings 75 m.p.h. or faster — drops by four per cent.

That puts them in line with the MLB average in bat speed difference and slightly ahead of the league average in fast swing rate drop-off. 

The new data also allows us to dive into the numbers for individual players and see what they might be doing to avoid striking out.

Player

AVG Bat Speed Pre-Two Strikes

AVG Bat Speed With Two Strikes

Fast Swing Rate Pre-Two Strikes

Fast Swing Rate With Two Strikes

Swing Length Pre-Two Strikes

Swing Length With Two Strikes

Bo Bichette

70.7 m.p.h.

69.0 m.p.h.

14.6 per cent

10.0 per cent

7.3 feet

7.1 feet

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 

75.7 m.p.h

74.6 m.p.h

54.8 per cent

41.0 per cent

7.8 feet

7.7 feet

Davis Schneider

70.9 m.p.h.

68.7 m.p.h.

6.5 per cent


4.5 per cent

6.9 feet

6.8 feet

Danny Jansen

69.8 m.p.h

68.0 m.p.h.

8.1 per cent


4.7 per cent

6.9 feet

6.7 feet

That includes the four Blue Jays players in the table above who have some of the most noticeable swing changes when faced with a two-strike count.

Here’s a deeper look at what they’re doing and how that has impacted their on-field results.

Bo Bichette

If there was one player currently on the Blue Jays that you can watch take his at-bats and notice a difference in their approach pre- and post-two strikes, it would be Bichette.

It’s well known that he drops his leg kick with his back against the wall in a count, but now, we can see how changing his swing affects what he does with his bat and just how conducive that is to success.

Like most hitters, Bichette slows his bat down and takes less fast swings with two strikes. But unlike most hitters, Toronto’s shortstop has actually found more success in two-strike counts than he has otherwise — his OPS on the season is .607, but with two strikes, it stands at .711.

Both of his home runs on the season and six of his nine extra-base hits have come with two strikes. 

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So, while Bichette has struggled mightily to begin the season, it appears that somewhat simplifying his approach has helped him find success when he’s in a pitcher’s count.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

No Blue Jays hitter has a larger drop-off in their fast swing rate between count situations than Guerrero Jr. There isn’t much of a difference between his average bat speed, but since his average sits on the line of what Baseball Savant defines as a “fast swing,” slowing down his bat by even one m.p.h will cause him to miss the threshold more often.

This suggests that the 25-year-old might not actually be changing up his swing all that much, despite there being a drastic difference in the numbers.

Unlike Bichette, Guerrero hasn’t found the same level of success when hitting with two strikes. His OPS stands at .422 with just one extra-base hit in unfavourable counts.

However, his results while hitting with two strikes may be worth monitoring, as both his squared-up rate and blast rate go up when he makes contact with two strikes.

Davis Schneider

While Guerrero has the largest difference between his fast swing rate when faced with a two-strike count, Schneider has the biggest change in his average bat speed.

Since the bat tracking data was released on Sunday night, one of the key takeaways has been that shorter swings tend to be slower, and one area where hitters shorten their swings is pitches high and in.

So, for a player who, by his own admission, struggles with pitches up in the zone, it would make sense that Schneider’s swing would slow down more often as pitchers attack his weakness. Schneider sees pitches at the top of the zone or higher 34.7 per cent of the time in two-strike counts, where his swing becomes shorter and slower.

Despite striking out in 39 per cent of his 77 two-strike plate appearances, Schneider has a team-high three home runs and eight extra-base hits with two strikes.

Danny Jansen

While being among Toronto’s leaders in the difference between bat speed and fast swing rate with two strikes, Jansen has found a ton of early success with that approach to begin the season.

Of course, his delayed start to the season has limited his sample size early on, but through his first 38 plate appearances that have reached two strikes, the 29-year-old is slashing .273/.342/.576 with just an 18.4 per cent strikeout rate, four doubles and two home runs.

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Jansen has made a habit of hitting for power without eye-popping exit velocities or bat speed numbers, and that has translated into his two-strike approach.

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